About the event
World Fair Trade Day is celebrated on the second Saturday of May and is endorsed by the World Fair Trade Association (WFTA), the global authority on fair trade. It's a day to raise awareness about Fair Trade projects and the need for a fairer global economy.
Fair Trade initiatives have existed since the 1940’s with larger scale projects developing in the late 60’s such as the Alternative Trading Organisation (ATO). The WFTA was started in 1988, with Fairtrade International (the most recognisable Fair Trade mark) starting from 2002.
All of these projects have aimed to counteract the unequal and predatory trading practices of the modern global market with rich countries and large corporations paying low prices and encouraging exploitation in poorer countries. Alternatively, Fair Trade aims to provide products for which everyone involved is paid a fair wage and enjoys a good standard of living.
Today, the WFTA boasts 1 million+ small scale producers and 3000+ grassroots organisations in over 75 countries.
How to approach it
Introducing students to the Fair Trade movement is a great opportunity to explore introductory economic concepts like where we get food and products from or what corporations and international trade is. This can be made simpler or more complex depending on age, but students should be introduced to the idea that the food we eat and the things we use are made by people all over the world.
Next, introduce students to some of the problems our modern, globalised markets have. They may have ideas themselves, or you can prompt them by talking about how people are paid less in certain countries or that with less labour protections foreign working conditions may be much worse. You could suggest some explanations as to why this is such as companies searching out the cheapest possible way to make products, consumers not knowing enough about where their products come from or governments failing to regulate international and national trade properly.
Finally, show that Fair Trade is the beginning of a solution to this. Fair Trade makes sure workers are paid properly and it takes into account working conditions and whether these are good enough. Importantly, show that Fair Trade provides a model for how all trade should be handled. Ask students, if you were a farmer or factory worker how would you like to be treated? Help them to imagine and discuss what a fair system could look like.
When you buy your lunch, or a new pair of trainers, do you ever think about where they came from or who made them? How many people were part of the process to get them to you? If something is really cheap, how was that possible?